Vowels 5 and 19, /ɑ/ versus //    73 pairs      [barbear.html]

The /ɑ/ vowel is usually spelled <ar> but we also find <a> in ma, <aa> in baa and the letter name R. The // diphthong is spelled <air>, <are>, or <ear> in tear.

This contrast is between a long vowel and a diphthong. The starting tongue positions are fairly well separated and confusions are unlikely.

Interesting pairs include:

barley barely
scarred scared
The second of these pairs is famously incorporated into a classic joke, a newspaper correcting a misprint in which instead of writing about a soldier "he was a battle-scarred warrior" it had printed "battle-scared" and then miscorrected it to "bottle-scarred"

The density value is 7.58%. The pairs make 34 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 46.6%.

afar affair
aria area 
  arias areas 
baa bare
  baas bares
  baa'd bared
baa bear
  baas bears
bar bare
  barring baring 
  barred bared
  bars bares
bar bear
  barring bearing 
  bars bears
barley barely 
barn bairn 
  barns bairns 
car care
  cars cares 
card cared
char chair 
  charred chaired
  charring chairing 
  chars chairs 
fa fair
fa fare
far fair 
far fare
hard hared
khan cairn
  khans cairns 
lard laird 
  lards lairds 
ma mare
  mas mares
mar mare
  mars mares
pa pear
  pas pears  
pa pair
  pas pairs
par pair 
  pars pairs 
parr pear
  parrs pears
parr pair
  parrs pairs  
R Ayr 
  R's airs
scar scare
  scarred scared 
  scarring scaring 
  scars scares 
shah share
  shahs shares
shard shared
spar spare
  sparred spared 
  sparring sparing 
  spars spares 
star stair 
  starred stared 
  starring staring 
  stars stairs 	 
ta tare
ta tear  
tar tare	
  tars tares
tar tear  
  tarring tearing
  tars tares 
yah yeah

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009